Now here’s the real story, tailored and spun like
the emperor’s yarn for no one to hear
he said, who said, a synopsis she made
a scarecrow in the yard to keep the coast clear

you’ve put on too much weight, one of them wrote,
the people I know that you know but who won’t ever know

Like learning from a magazine of the things to be. Happy looks like this, tick the boxes. I. Am.
Making impossible things happen.
But there’s this gentle sting in the emperor’s heart that no one can feel.

You haven’t changed, another said, though your hair is going grey.
Salt and pepper. I say. As I kiss her cheek. The seasoning of life.

The people we know who know but feign to never know

there’s time, I write in an invitation note, and gravity, much harsher on some,
but the sun is ours while we breathe, so come as you may.

She spreads the tablecloth on the grass on the holiday.
A bit like secrets to the world. Oh, there’s a stain, she says with sad intonations, rubbing
it furiously. They’re several, I tell her, pointing at others. But no one cares enough to notice. Place the baskets here, the thermos there.
They come. For samosas, chapatti, tea. In plastic cups, decorated with red valentines and love.
People we’ve always known.
You’re keeping something in, one whispered when the others were far away

Interesting, I said to myself, looking around, perhaps he’d seen your ghost. See, you’d always been my only skeleton, and I’d always thought that I wore you on my sleeve.
Like a fluffy cuff on the emperor’s clothes. Just no one could see.

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